Stephen Mansfield and David A. Holland
Answering the Anti-PentecostaI Bias
When Sarah Palin became the Republican nominee for vice president in 2008, reports quickly surfaced saying she had long been a member of a Pentecostal church. With that news, any grand American tradition of religious tolerance for her vanished. More than simply being disrespected for her Pentecostal beliefs, Palin was derided for them with smears that were close to bizarre in their misuse of the facts.
She was a heretic, bloggers claimed, and under the hypnotic sway of modern Elmer Gantrys. She was robotically devoted to the cult of a witch hunter. She attended a church in which people ranted in tongues, raised Nazi salutes and trained their children to be Christian versions of suicide bombers.
The truth was, Palin was a member of one of the fastest-growing movements in Christian history, one that must be considered mainstream today by any standard. From a handful of adherents when modern Pentecostalism began in the early 1900s, Pentecostals now number more than 580 million worldwide. They are growing by more than 19 million a year, some 54,000 per day, and researchers predict by 2025 there will be more than 1 billion Pentecostals and charismatics in the world, most located in Asia, Africa and Latin America.